“I got into Wesleyan!” Sanika said in her triumphant yet humble voice.
“Wow! That is awesome,” I responded. I don’t know who was more excited- Sanika or I.
Sanika a second year student of medicine from Sangli, India, had called me around six months ago, saying that she would like to study in the US and was open to starting her undergraduate education all over again. I asked her if it was because she was not able to cope with the rigors that MBBS in India involved. She laughed and said she was topping her class. My instinctive reaction was to persuade her to stay back and complete her MBBS. After all we need good doctors in India! But she explained to me that she was keen on research and was keen to study neuroscience and maybe do a Phd later. When I saw that she had made up her mind to go to the US, I told her that she could think of going in for a transfer to one of the colleges in the US and that it would not be necessary to start all over again. “Is that possible?” she asked and heard a resounding YES from me.
Adrija wanted to do her engineering in the US. When her father recommended that she studied here in Bangalore for a couple of years and then take a transfer she agreed. She completed two years of engineering from PESIT, Bangalore, got an acceptance from Cornell and secured a Bachelor’sdegree in Engineering this summer.
When would you consider a transfer from a college in India to a college in the US? Let us examine a few situations when a transfer application would help.
1. When you feel that the total cost of attendance is not affordable but that you can manage 50 – 75% of the cost involved
You can get at transfer either after your first year or your second year of college in India. Since you will be studying in India for one or two years, you would have to pay fees at a US university for two years only. Thus you would automatically be incurring 50-75% of the total cost of studying in the US, depending on the year you get transferred into.
2. When parents are keen that their children get an exposure to the US education system, but are not keen to send them right out of class XII
Many parents feel that their children are not mature enough to look after themselves right after class XII. They may feel that it would be better to stay back at home in India and proceed to the US a couple of years down the line. In such cases, parents and students can consider a transfer application. Says Adrija, “I really feel that doing my first two years in India gave me a connect with the scenario in India and also a better understanding of what I wanted. Cornell was a great experience and has certainly made a huge impact on shaping my ideas. And now that I am going to business school I think I will be able to make more valuable contributions since I would have had the opportunity of studying in India, working with my father for two years in the real estate industry and also be able to share my perspective on what I gained from my two years at Cornell"
3. When you discover after you have started college here, that you are in the wrong stream of study
It is not that you cannot change your stream in India but it is not easy. For example if a student joins an Economics program in India and then wants to do Biology, it would be very difficult for that student to pursue his or her desire. But in the US, the student would find it easy to approach the college advisor and explain the situation. Colleges are very open to such changes. They are open to transferring as many credits as appropriate for the courses covered in India, so that you do not have to start all over again.
What do colleges look for in a transfer application?
Grades :-) If there is one thing that does not go out of fashion, it is good grades. So if you think you will consider a transfer ensure you don’t take it easy in your Freshman year here in India or even if you happen to be already in the US.
Standardized Tests : Hmm…these don’t leave you do they. Even for a transfer most colleges like to see these scores. Don’t forget it is a simple way for them to differentiate.
The good news is that there are quite a few colleges in the US who don’t consider SAT / ACT as a requisite for transfer, so in case you do not have your SAT or ACT tests scores, then you still can apply as a transfer student provided you choose colleges that say standardized testing is optional or is not required at all.
Reason for transfer: You need to have a strong reason for transfer and you need to convey this effectively. For example Sanika was able to convince her colleges that she was keen on doing research, she had already done some research on diseases such as Parkinson and Alzheimer and had a paper published in another. Adrija was able to communicate to Cornell that she would be a good candidate for their Chemical Engineering program. Her intense two week internship where she worked for not less than 10 hours a day at the organic chemical labs in the Indian Institute of Science, showed her passion in the field of Chemistry. Another student was able to articulate that her desire to study in a liberal arts environment was the real reason she wanted to transfer.
You cannot look like you are running away from something. You have to look within and find a solid reason to transfer. If you do find it, I am sure you will be able to communicate it.
In Sanika’s words, "The best moment for me was the admission letter that arrived from one of the best schools I had applied to! Getting accepted into Wesleyan University was not just happy news but something that would change my life forever and take me one step closer to my lifelong dream! Since I was doing very well in my medical school, nobody here could comprehend why I wanted to transfer! I wanted to explore broader horizons, be challenged more and study something that I loved! After months of planning and giving it a lot of thought, I finally decided to take an international transfer, and now I am so happy I found my place at Wesleyan!"
So look within and if you think you are not happy doing what you are doing and would like to do something different, perhaps a transfer is your answer!